Summary: A focus on the motion of the moon sets the foundation for the initial phase of Jyotiṣa, which is known as the science of timekeeping for determining auspicious times for Vedic rituals.
Tags: Vedic astrology, ancient origins, Sanskrit sacred texts, astronomy, Indian iconography, Hinduism, Hindu cosmology, Surya, Chandra.
External Links: all embedded throughout article, including a reference list at the end.
Internal Links: all embedded throughout article.
By Maurena L. McKee
Article 5959: Ancient Origins of Vedic Astrology
Focus key phrase: Vedic Astrology
Second key phrase: sacred texts
Title: Surya the Sun
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Jyotiṣa is rooted in hymns about mythology and instructions for religious rituals. India’s calendar is reflected in stories from the ancient Vedas, where Jyotiṣa is documented within the Rig Veda and Yajur Veda. Whereby, Vedic astrology ultimately seems to be a method of intercalation, following various methods to synchronize lunar and solar calendars.
Title: Ancient Images Compiled From the Four Vedas (i.e., Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda, and Atharva Veda)
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Sanskrit sacred texts hereby document the evolution of the human accumulating and synthesizing awareness of our place in the cosmos. Thus, four major phases of transition have been identified in the evolution of astronomy in Indian civilization, consisting of the initial phase, settlement phase, civilization phase, and the technology based phase (Vahia et al. 2011). Astronomical observation evolved through Vedanga Jyotiṣa (1200 BC) with later refinements added over the following 2000 years.
Title: Documenting of the Vedanga Jyotiṣa
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Vedanga literature was created at the end of the Vedic period, and within them was the Vedanga Jyotiṣa which discusses the astronomy of that time period. Its function and purpose is often noted to be related to the water-clock, considering human pulse measurements and duration of musical notes (Vahia et al. 2011). This highlights bandhu, as the notion of interrelating the inner and outer worlds—where the intrapersonal and interpersonal mend, which lends to Vedic mysticism and Hindu cosmology.
Title: The Pulse of the Universe
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A tripartite relation incapsulates the format of Hinduism at the time of creation, highlighting the relation between humans, ancestors and gods. This relationship is emphasized through poetic expressions in terms of the universe and human place within the cosmos (Dillon 1988). Furthermore, Hindu origin stories include multiple deities that emphasize divine nature, in which individuals may connect with patterns of emotional dynamics and cycles of relational actions that unravel throughout time.
Title: Deities Representing Celestial Alignment
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The history of Hindu celestial beings and epic stories is traced back to the ancient Vedas, in which the stars illustrate India’s stories and festivals. The initial phase of Jyotiṣa is grounded in determining the sunrise and seasons, while attenuating to the epic story of how Chandra or the moon god regains his luster after swimming in Sarasvati, who flows as the river of stars in the night. Vedanga Jyotiṣa refers to how the moon is constantly writhing and changing, following a cycle of 27 nakshatras or mansions, based on 27 groups of stars—each consisting of 13 degrees 20” of the lunar monthly cycle (Dillon 1988), which contribute to the marking of auspicious calendar dates during the moon’s journey and alignment with the stars.
Title: Yantra of Chandra
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By focusing on the moon, the mode of life has become all the more varied and revealing of depth, which moves one deeper into the nature of the cosmos. As noted in the Yoga-Sūtra: Candre tārā vyūha jñānaṃ, following the translation by Sri Swami Satchidananda (2012), “By saṃyama on the moon, comes knowledge of the stars’ arrangement.” At it all, Vedic astrology offers us space to bring our awareness to the direct location we are within the cosmos—to then move outward from here.
- Dillon, Judith. (1988). “The Nakshatras of the Moon.” Vedic Studies.
- M N Vahia, Nisha Yadav and Srikumar M Menon. (2011). “The Origin and Growth of Astronomy, as Viewed from an Indian Context.” National Council of Science Museums, Kolkata, India.
- Satchidananda, Sri Swami. (2012). Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: Translation and Commentary. Integral Yoga Publications Collection.
Footnote: From Sri Swami Satchidananda (2012) covering the Yoga-Sutrā portion on accomplishments, Vibhūti Pāda depicts dhāraṇā as the act of tuning into or binding the mind to: one place, object or idea. This portion mainly orients around the difference between dhāraṇā in comparison to dhyāna and samādhi. Dhyāna is marked the continuous flow of cognition toward the object, while samādhi as the same meditation when there is the shining of the object alone, as if devoid of form. The practice of all three upon one object is called saṃyamaḥ, becoming the primary focus of Vibhūti Pāda.